Kashmir draws up ambitious plan to preserve red deer

Srinagar, March 8 (IANS) Alarmed by the fall in the numbers of the rare red deer known locally as ‘Hangul’, the Jammu and Kashmir government said Monday it was doing everything possible to save this species from extinction.

Known scientifically as cervis elaphus hanglu and found only in Kashmir, this red deer species could face extinction if immediate steps are not taken for preservation and protection of their natural habitat.

The Dachigam National Park, on the outskirts of Srinagar, is the natural habitat of the Hangul deers though in summers some of them often cross the limits of the national park to graze in higher mountain reaches adjacent to the park.

Minister of State Shabir Ahmad Khan, in his reply to a debate on the issue in the legislative council, said the Hanguls numbered 107 in 2004, 197 in 2005, 153 in 2006, 127 in 2008 and 175 in 2009.

The state government has prepared a species recovery plan for conservation of Hangul deers through the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, at a cost of Rs.220 million.

The plan to be completed in five years has already been submitted to the union ministry of environment and forests for approval.

The minister accepted that one major reason for the alarming decrease in the numbers of this rare species was the shrinking range of its habitat.

He said two conservation breeding centres for the species would be established in the Valley under the preservation programme.

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